tv Today in Washington CSPAN January 15, 2011 2:00am-6:00am EST
guest: it was a 13 person e-mail list and now it is called organizing for america. it has not been a top priority for the obama administration, especially in the beginning. people wanted this grassroots thing from the president. by and large, they were not made part of the transition, part of the team as they could have been. and i think obama has been playing catch up on that issue ever since. if you look at the electorate, it is radically different of the 2008 electorate. it would have voted for john
mccain. that is the way people registered -- in some ways, democrats registered their complaints with the obama administration. he stayed home and he cannot afford to do that in 2012. he has to be attention to the legitimate complaints of his supporters and try to balance what they want with all of the pressures he is facing on capitol hill. host: we're looking at numbers from gallup that came out this month. party identification is looking at the trends in the republican and democratic leanings. ari berman, d you think it is significant to look at how people self identified, what the percentage of people is the self identify as democrats? guest: what are the latest
numbers? the host: saying 45% r. democrat and 45% are leaning republican, but interesting to note that the democratic idea actually dropped last month. in 2010, 31% of americans identified as democrats. that is down five percentage points from just two years ago and is tied for the lowest measurements in many years. republicans rose to 38%, and that is on the high end of what god has measured in the last two decades. -- the high end of what gallup has measured in the last two decades. guest: there is a major economic crisis in washington that neither party has sufficiently addressed. i think it is significant. i think the parties are evenly divided, which is where we are right now.
rising, and keep that has been happening for a long time. a lot of them are probably conservative, but many are also democratic cleaning. that is what the electorate has been so volatile and it has been hard to have some realignment because independents jump from one party to another. host: let's take a comment from florida. caller: i want to say that i think president obama did a wonderful job arizona. i think the vitriol that has been going around this country is ludicrous. you have people like sarah palin who has the brains of a toad.
she is out there talking and everything is about her. we need to change the vitriol in the country and we need to get along. guest: gained about 10 minutes without talking about -- we made it about 10 minutes without talking about sarah palin. [laughter] that is our record. the contrast between obama and kailyn on wednesday could not have been more striking she looked defensive end somewhat petty in her video address before obama spoke. and after he spoke and laid out an expansive vision for the country, she looked more petty and smaller. and republicans will call-in and yell at me for that.
she is a very more polarizing figure. chic -- i don't know how she is expanding her coalition. obama wanted to be a leader who could reach out across party lines. host: much of your book focuses on howard dean and the influence, the legacy that he really left behind before running for president. you write that the campaign provided the manual for a bottom-up mass movement. his 50-state strategy --
even though his campaign was not ultimately successful, the president -- he rode the same ideas to become chairman of the democratic party which people thought was crazy, this outside insurgent suddenly become chairman of the democratic party. a lot of democrats and insider democrats say they have been left out of the democratic party. they wanted to be relevant in the red and blue states alike. they were yearning for some way to be involved in the party, and they believed they could win if they were given the resources to do so. the swing states will still be important, but they were going to give money to alaska and rebuild the democratic party. that is something that democrats rallied around if you look at what happened in 2006 and in
2008. the obama campaign said that when they were running in all different places. it states like indiana and north carolina which nobody thought would go blue in 2008, how they went blue, and then if you look at 2010, the tea party picked them up. they wanted to organize all of these places. we are in this interesting era where the right and the left are committed to doing grass-roots politics. >> does howard dean get credit for that? caller: he should get credit. i don't think as much -- guest: he should get credit. i don't think as much. there were a lot of democrats that did not like him. republicans who endlessly replayed his screaming and i walk and love to make fun of him, now they say very openly
that they were copying his playbook. i think he gets a lot more credit compared to where he was two or three years ago. i don't think he gets as much credit from the insiders in the obama administration to date. host: let's hear from barry down in florida. caller: i think the last caller showed typical [unintelligible] of democrats. sarah palin has the brains of the total but we have to down the rhetoric, we should not do these kinds of things. also, mr. ari berman is very disingenuous about the reaction of democrats to these tragedies. it is all like -- it is a wasted tragedy. what they did with the minnesota -- i can remember his name, the
minnesota senator that died a few years ago, why they did at his memorial service, what they do in general is to use these debts to its advance their own political agenda. guest: and there was no political agenda and barack obama's speech other than wanting to be more civil with each other. he specifically said now is not the time to debate health care or gun-control. he specifically rejected to talk about these issues. so i don't see that in terms of barack obama's speech. host: new jersey on our democrats aligned. -- line. caller: it is all of the politicians need to start
learning how to tell the truth. this country has risen drastically and they are telling of federal employees -- of their wages are frozen. they did the same to the senior citizens two years in a row. food went up 11%. senior citizens do not need a flat screen tvs and computers, and doctors do not prescribe them medicine for high blood pressure or sugar. considering them as a part of the economy going up or down is ridiculous. guest: i missed the first part. he talked about the deficit going up? host: concerns about politicians telling the truth and balancing people's economic reality when you talk about how the economy is doing on a larger scale. guest: the economy is not doing
well, and i don't think anyone would dispute that. a lot of people are struggling, people who have jobs, and even some of the jobs that they have -- a lot of people have stopped looking for work. to me, this is still the same issue in the country. we were talking -- we were talking about tucson this week, probably for another week or two, and then we will get back to the economy and the pain that people are feeling. republicans basically it docked in the 2010 election, saying we have to cut spending and taxes and we have to cut the deficit. you are probably not going to do all three in combination. democrats have not really a laid out in my view the next step. what is next? we have not seen that from the
obama administration. how are you going to address the pain that people are feeling? how are you going to relate to all of the struggling americans? president obama has not been as good on bread-and-butter issues that americans are facing. i think that is one skill that obama could borrow from bill clinton, which is to have empathy for the plight of people who are struggling in this economy. i hope he starts talking with us a lot more in the next two years and talks straight with the american people about what is going on in the country, the magnitude of the crisis he inherited, and how much time it will take for it to get better. host: a recent story from a roll call --
what does the obama administration to to stay relevant as republicans lead in the house and a democratic majority in the senate shrinks? guest: i think the president has shown in tucson he is still relevant and still the president. house republicans can do what they want to do what they cannot make laws. the president can veto what they do. he has a much bigger pulpit and go out in the country and basically say to john boehner, you do what you want to do and i am going to do what i want to do. i am not going to abandon my agenda to do that. i was talking to a former reagan biographer and i was asking him
how he was able to be successful. reagan went out and sold his policies to the american people. he had a democratic congress. he did not give up his message. he believed in what he was doing. if obama believes in his own plan and in his own policy ideas, he needs to either try to bring republicans where he is, and if he can't, he has to go out and talk to the american people about what is best for the country. host: it republican caller from minnesota. good morning. caller: i have a comment and question. i feel the fairness doctrine promotes the partisanship. when they first guarded counterpoint speeches, i was appalled. does this not increase by
partisanship? more strongly, the president should be bipartisan. he should be more in the middle, americans think. the presidency is the position of bipartisan and should be worthy of all americans trust. he should be more of a statement like a total american leader. guest: we will see if that happens in the next two years. i don't think he got the cooperation he expected from the other side. i think republicans made the determination that if they helped him to succeed, obama would rise as a result, so they would say no to anything, which is of course what happened. the strategy of saying no
actually worked pretty effectively. i think it is going to be hard for them to do that now. i think it is going to put some impetus on president obama to try to be bipartisan. he has to be bipartisan if he feels like it is actually going to help solve problems in the country today. sometimes it will and sometimes it will not. i don think for example cutting social security and medicare is going to be something that a lot of americans are going to like because i think that is going to be a major issue in the coming years. in terms of the responses, we have had responses to the state of the union, and people tend not to watch it. they tend to turn off the tv whenever a respondent comes on. host: looking at the partisanship, this piece in the political --
-- in politico -- let's go on to frankfurt, kentucky, where richard joins us on the democrat line. caller: good morning and thank you for taking my call. i have a couple of comments and a question. president obama and the stimulus package, saving our basic auto industry and millions of other jobs. for over eight years, we had the bush tax cuts that everybody is talking about. where are the jobs that these tax cuts were supposed to produce?
my question is why does the democratic party not put out as many advertisements as the republican advertisements to promote what they have successfully done to try to get the economy stimulated, provide more jobs, and i will end the call now and wait for your response. thank you very much. guest: there was an alarming statistic for democrats before the election. something like 95% of americans got tax cuts and only 8% in new about it. if you give someone a tax cut, they need to at least know about it. i think they undersold the stimulus, absolutely. i think there needs to be a two- prong strategy. number one, talk about how you got here and what you have done subsequently in terms of the crisis and talk about how the stimulus and other policies that
have been pushed, the auto bailout which has been incredibly successful -- i think they need to talk more about that, but that is not enough. i think there needs to be some prescription now to go beyond it. and lot of these funds are going to expire soon. states are hamstrung in terms of their budgets. there are a lot of issues in the next two years that the stimulus will not address. i think a lot of americans are looking to howl obama address is the economy and if there will be any action on jobs. the number one concern and priority of the american people. host: ari berman is a contributing writer of "the nation." he is also the author of the
book, "herding donkeys." if it talks a lot about howard dean and his strategy. you talk about his -- when he left the chairmanship of the dnc, and that was turned over to mr. mccain. you talk about how the dean was getting -- was being downplayed a bit. james carville wrote -- you said howard dean's snob did not matter because of one man's bruised ego --
guest: if you look at one of the main enemies that he made in his fight to rebuild the democratic party and decentralize power away from washington was rahm emanuel who in 2006 was running the campaign committee. he and dean got into a fight of how to fund the democratic party and also a larger vision of what the democratic party could be. rahm emanuel wanted to spend money on tv advertisements and target swing districts. there was a difference in opinion there. after obama made rahm emanuel his chief of staff, a fairly controversial decision, he was not the most popular figure in the capital. he made it clear he did not want howard dean around.
not only that, but rahm emanuel had a very contentious relationship with the democratic base in general who worked so hard to select president obama. he went further and called them f'ing retarded. i think it had a bad affect on obama and his supporters. rahm emanuel will likely be the next mayor of chicago. unfortunately, he leaves obama's administration pretty severely reduced. they have to spend more attention with their base. i think repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and things like that helps. this balance, the balance
between negotiating with the public and dealing with the business of the capital, and also dealing with his supporters who are going to be so important to his reelection, the white house is going to have to figure out how to navigate that better in the last two years. host: a republican from houston, texas, go ahead. caller: i am a black senior citizen grandmother just a few years shy of 80 years old. i left the republican party years ago and i have not regretted leaving one minute. i want to talk to that young man. the only reason the democrats -- you are deathly afraid of her. she believes in the constitution and the sanctity of life. you all are so stupid, you
democrats. the more you tax us, the more you push us into her campus. -- her camp. sitting here prison obama, obama is only president today only because he had a black daddy. remember, he has a white mother. the joe biden was all right then and he is right now. guest: in terms of sarah palin, i am not a spokesman of the democratic party. they are not afraid of her at all. the intensely do not like her but think she would be the easiest candidate for president obama to defeat in 2012. i think if you look at polls, they show that.
she is very divisive and very polarizing. i don't see how she broadened her political coalition beyond that 25% or 30% of republicans who really love her. i think she is too divisive even for the republican party. she will get enthusiastic support if she runs for president from the tea party, but those that of one alexians year in and year out, are going to be terrified of her and do everything they can to defeat her. host: joe is on our independent line. caller: thank god for c-span. we are going after the wrong thing. the fairness doctrine -- let congress opened their doors up.
let us decide. washington is getting us aggravated, calling in about democrats, republicans, and pundits. open the doors. put everything in plain english instead of a 2000-page insurance that we just passed on health care. guest: if you look at obama's speech, he made the argument that if we were more civil to each other, we would have a better democracy. i also think if you look at the main problem of washington, it is that powerful interest and very organized interest has more power than everybody else does. in my opinion, that is a structural problem that exists in both administrations. it bothers americans in both parties, which too much money in politics. the interest of a lot of lobbyists count more than
regular, everyday americans who basically buy off politicians and through campaign contributions and through fund raising. to me, that is the real issue of what washington is broken and it remains broken. if obama wants to pass health care, the first thing he has to do is cut deals with all of the industry's he is about to regulate. that is not a republican or democratic problem to me. that is a structural problem that not enough people are talking about. caller: i think they ought to change the republican party's it tit title. they have been fighting obama since he has taken office. why not -- why haven't they cooperated in the last two years? host: do you think there will be
more cooperation moving forward? guest: i think they are in a bind. the bond is that the american people do want the parties to work together. that is one reason why obama picked up after the lame-duck congress because he was able to pass the number of bills people wanted for once. but the bind that he is in is that -- that the party has been very clear to try to thwart his agenda to elect a president in 2012. those issues are going to pull the republican party in both directions. i am not sure how republicans are going to solve eight. it seems to me they are overriding people out in 2012 and their overriding interest is not going to be entering their constituents.
republicans are saying i do not want it to be me, which makes working with the other side much more difficult unless you are based -- unless you are from a state -- most republicans are getting pulled further and further to the right. it is going to be very interesting to see how they navigate this going forward. host: carl in mississippi, a republican. hi there. go ahead. caller: i cannot believe the memory loss of people who do not remember that when this president was elected, they were going to get health care passed through without republicans. they were going to do it with or without republicans. now, everybody wants to work with the republicans now that we won back the house.
have they forgotten -- they were doing things they wanted to do without the republican party. we have always been a two-party system and a check and balance system. they wanted to do anything they wanted to whether we like it or not. guest: for six months, there were bipartisan negotiations in the senate finance committee led by max baucus. that was a central democratic strategy, to try to bring these republicans on board. it became terry clear that the republican party was not going to support this legislation -- it became very clear that the republican party was not going to support this legislation. they went around the country saying obama was going to pull the plug on a grandmother. in my opinion, obama waited too
long to try to push for a democratic-only bill because it was obvious that republicans were not going to go along with this. they wanted to be -- they wanted it to be obama's waterloo. if it just slows things down and stalls everything, i don't think it should be something that is a prioritized just for the sake bipartisanship is bipartisanship. host: share more of that message guest: i think i have a fairly nuanced view of the president. i think in terms of the report
that i did for the book, i followed him for not prioritizing his supporters as much as he should've been. i followed him for what he did on the stimulus. i don't think tax cuts or big enough. i think there were too many deals cut for the health-care bill to get past. i think they have not been as aggressive as they could have been in terms of dealing with the economy. i think there is a wide variety of criticisms that i do not like, and a think many obama supporters do not like the appointment in the white house, not enough new thinking and new ideas. i think the president has been far too passive at times selling his agenda and fighting for his agenda and laying out what his core priorities are and how far he is willing to push. i think those are all criticisms of the obama administration.
if i am far from a stout obama's defender. sometimes i feel like i am portrayed as an obama critic. you cannott really>> "washingto" continues. host: thank you for coming in this morning. what is your impression at this point in the week, nearly a week after the tucson shooting, what is your impression of the media coverage? guest: before committing to that, everybody should express's the nation's sorrow for the victim's and for those who continue to suffer and their families. the media coverage.
it has been a national disgrace. i can't get any harsher than that. every day that goes by underscores a that the national press had had a roofless agenda to use this horror for their own ends. even though on a daily basis, more and more evidence comes out that proves unequivocably that the media are wrong in what they are saying. they simply will not let up. host: why is it that they are saying that is wrong? guest: that this is politics in general, and conservative politics in particular, that this is about rush limbaugh, sarah palin, or glenn beck, about the tone of politics. we are learning that, for
example, this killer had no political affiliation. we know that he cited two works, the communist manifesto and mein campf. neither one of them are conservative. we now know that he never listened to talk radio. we know that he never watched the news, so how in the world is he affected by the news and by talk radio? if that is the case, then why the continued fascination with wanting to talk about that and halt talk radio has to curb its often do a better job, when in fact we know it has nothing to do with it? we might as well blame a game of parcheesi or the green bay packers for beating the philadelphia eagles. the reality is, those things had
nothing to do with this. this man was a killer. is this a demented person or an evil person? the conversation we should be having is that he is insane and evil. that is a far scarier discussion and then about sarah palin. let's stop using it for political purposes, which is what the media are doing. i think the answer to your question is it is disgraceful what they are doing. host: the numbers to call -- a piece from the new york times --
where is the harm in having this discussion about civil discourse? guest: , i think it is a very good discussion, don't get me wrong. i think it is a discussion which could have had 10 years ago and one that we have today, but do not tied it to what happened. what happened has nothing to do with politics. do not say it is because of sarah palin and the cross hairs on her web site, that this man was influenced. if we want to have a discussion on civil discourse and civility, i cannot be more supportive of this because it has deteriorated on both sides. i have no problem at all with brass knuckles politics, but the
rule of thumb that i follow is a simple one. at the end of the day, [unintelligible] if you can, ok. if you can't you went too far. sam donaldson -- we were debating on the crossfire. afterwards, we had a lengthy conversation about something, a private conversation, but i walk away with extraordinary respect for the man. i told him he was ruining my campaign because it was much easier for me to dislike him. he wrote me back in perfect words. he said remember, "always professional, never personal." if we could all remember that, that would be everything.
if you want to have a conversation on it, absolutely, but let's not tie it to this. host: arizona shooting coverage is a campaign -- when you use words like that, liberal sickos, and language that has its own punch to it, are you adding to the dialogue? guest: i am going to respond when someone in the press suggests that i am responsible for this, that the movement i believe in is responsible, that because i believe the gunman is out of control and we have to do something to rein in this flirtation with national socialism, somehow i am responsible for this carnage.
i get offended by that. then when they turn around and give me a lecture on the civility, well, maybe i will take the gloves off, too. host: hi, steve. caller: good morning. what you refused to seek is that this young man who killed people in arizona, [unintelligible] there are a lot of americans who are fearful of the republican party. they see the republican party as being a terrorist organization now. thank you guest: i don't know how to respond to that. to respond to that is to give credibility to an outrageous accusation, so i am not going to respond to it. host: do you deny that people are around jared loughner
created a toxic environment that included him? guest: good lord. at some point in this man's life, he went into a dentist's office and there was a newspaper with an editorial. do we blame the that writer for this? this is how ridiculous it is getting, that he might know someone that listens to talk radio, so it influenced him? we cannot go down this road. what if it turns out that for three hours per day, this man, this killer listen to rush limbaugh roo? does that make rush limbaugh and implicit or fair to say that rush limbaugh influenced him toward doing this? if that is the case, are we also going to say that all court
bears responsibility for the unabomber? where they're not reports that gore'sbomber had alcor's book bookes in his hut? are we going to blame them? of course not. you cannot do that, but is happening now. host: kathleen is on our republicans blind. caller: i have a couple of comments that i would like to make a question. i do have a question that would go to research, but i want to make a comment about the president's speech the other day. i watched it clear through until the cameras were off as he walked away. i was just dumbfounded as to how much of his speech took place about the young girl that was killed, and yet i waited to see
to shake the parents' hands, and from what i could see, he spent a few seconds with him and then he was off shaking hands with others and spending more time with political leaders. comment -- the second is talk radio and republican democrats -- what is being done and talked about going on in congress and changing everything, you are not exposed to classical music or jazz or reggae or pop music. we are going to make every radio station played every kind of music. the question is, in your research, have you ever been able to research who does the most name-calling? i always feel like when i of having a debate with a liberal
or a democrat or someone who does not have my point of view, if angry words or said or if name-calling, they are losing the argument so they cannot discuss ideas anymore. they go to name calling, the lowest level of debate. has there been any research to discover who does the most name- calling and go to that level? host: we will leave it there. guest: i cannot comment on a handshake -- the hand shake. this is how the far left has taken this tragedy and is playing politics with it, where overnight a member of congress comes out and calls for the fairness doctrine to be imposed because of this shooting. this is what i mean about the way it does become disgraceful on the part of some on left.
the third point she made about name-calling, we cannot with a report on our website -- we came out with a report that itemizes a litmus of commons that the been made by the left on liberal talk radio, on television, on pbs, where one after another, they call for the death of conservatives. i challenge anyone to show me where a conservative or fox has ever said anything along those lines. do we have to remember nina totenberg, saying she wished that one of his grandchildren would die of aids? this is the kind of comments that you have the from the left,
here, he says that the worst e- mail he received about the stability project were from conservatives with " unbelievable language about communists." "everything is in black and white and no conservatives see any redeeming value." guest: mark is a friend of mine and someone i have great respect for it. he is a very strong conservative. it is unfortunate that that would be the reaction. i know all three of those people. joe lieberman is a man with whom i agree with about 3% of the time. and yet, he is one of the ones in congress who i have the most respect for because he is always a gentle man and always civil. he has been on a campaign
promoting decency for years. he is my kind of liberal. i think it is unfortunate. i don't know what happened. but i know that market is a good man so there is something there reject but i know that marked -- but i know that mark is a good man so there is something there. i guess, a lot of it depends on who he contacted for what kind of response he got. host: what is your take about that idea, regardless of what group you are a part of, looking within your own ranks instead of pointing the finger? guest: i think all of us, all of us -- i do not suggest that i am
pure as the driven snow. i have lost my temper a time or two, absolutely. we can all look at ourselves. that is a good thing. about 10 years ago, i tried unsuccessfully to lure president bush 41 to washington to give a speech on the civility simply because regardless of what you think of george bush's politics, father or son, but primarily a father, i don't know if there is a more decent civil service person alive today then that president. i wanted to bring him into the national press club to make a speech.
i think it is awful to use this series of murders in arizona to do that. i think we need to mourn the families and the victims and not play politics. host: let's hear from catherine, an independent caller from virginia. good morning. caller: this is about civility but also about gun laws and how these powerful lobbyists are influencing these gop people as well as it democrats. rupert murdoch runs all of the media. that is not journalism. it is just entertainment. sarah palin is not a politician. she is just an entertainer. she shows her lack of education
all the time. host: we will leave it there. guest: i do not speak for the nra. if the laws were in place, they should have prevented this young man from getting the gun. the there is a body of evidence seemingly a mile long that he was mentally disturbed, if not very dangerous and should have been investigated by the police. if they had looked into it, they would've taken the steps -- host: there is no allegation at this point that any laws were broken when it comes to background checks. guest: these things were not investigated. these complaints were not investigated by the police. if he had been prosecuted, they
would have followed up with these complaints. i am not a lobbyist so i cannot speak for them, but what i can say is that it is inappropriate for bill maher to go on tv and say that the nra should be renamed the assassination lobby. there are millions of members of the nra who support them because they support the second amendment. he has just called them participants in an assassination. when he takes to the airwaves on tv and says that conservatives just want to kill liberals, and even jay leno was shocked because he was dead serious, and interestingly enough there were members of the audience who booed him when he said that.
this is the far left using this horror to promote an agenda against conservatives. host: let's go to louisville, kentucky. caller: i have a comment and a question. it seems to me -- if i am mistaken, i wish you would really correct me. every time i see anybody saying anything in regard to sarah palin, it is always about the congresswoman as a victim from the shooting. the only thing i have heard them do it is at play that. every time they play it, this clip, they expressly say they do not hold sarah palin responsible for it, so i think it would be irresponsible to not show that in light of the congresswoman
being shot. the only other thing i would like to say is, when you first came on, you stated how this is being made out into a political thing. i don't see how you could possibly be in the situation where politicians are being targeted and shot and it not being about a political purpose. he came to the place where a meeting was being held. if he agreed with the lady, he would not have been there to shoot her. because of him not agreeing with her, it had to be politically motivated or he would not have been there for the purpose of causing destruction and mayhem. guest: one, we do not know that. we don't know why he shot the congresswoman. did he do it because of her
beliefs? there is no evidence on that. did he do it because she is a congresswoman? is that it did not matter that she was a democrat or republican, he would have done it, too. i don't think that made a difference. she was a member of congress, an important person, a celebrity. that is why he did it, i think, and that is going to come out of it. you say that the media -- you notice something that is absolutely correct. the media say on a regular basis of a preface any story while saying although there is no evidence that sarah palin is connected, and then they talk about sarah palin. if there is no evidence, why are you talking about it? i will give you an example of
how words are being twisted. paul clark and of the york times wrote an editorial. he blasted congress, and michelle bachman because he said she has stated that she wanted people to be "armed and dangerous." he said that is the kind of language that is inappropriate and scary, etc. apparently, he said this on a radio talk show. the host of that talk show went public yesterday or the day before yesterday. they had the transcripts. they played exactly what it was she said. congresswoman michelle bachman was talking about cap and trade legislation, and she was saying the people up in washington were getting away with this legislation because the american people did not know what was
overwhelmingly elected obama and a democratic congress and a democratic senate. and the republicrats chose to ignore the election. they filibustered the senate. they talked down to obama as a socialist and they did of this ugly stuff and they did it to deny the people of the united states the control of their government. guest: 50% of the american people want obama care repealed. statistics. over 60% of the people. there is no single piece of legislation, i suspect, in history that has been hotly -- more hotly debated and closely
debated and has gotten more media attention than national health care. interestingly enough, the more it is debated, the more ground democrats lose on this in the court of public opinion. now, 50% is a big number. -- 60% is a big number. the caller as saying that the guarantees to listen to the people. i think he means that he supports its repeal. host: to clarify what we are for talking about earlier, this piece in the christian science monitor, there is evidence that the shooting suspect is mentally unstable. but he was never declared so in court. ... scrolling to the story you get to see more detail.
why was he able to buy a gun? guest: that proves the point. if the authorities had done what the authorities try have done, which is investigating these complaints about this bizarre man, they would have in all likelihood found him mentally unfit and he would not have been able to get that done. host: albany, georgia, welcome. caller: i want to say thank you for your common sense. cliff is nice to hear the truth out of it and not spin from the media. i have two quick comments. one is from a previous caller who said she was afraid of the republican party. i tell you, i have been afraid
of the democratic party and the policies that they have pushed through without the consent of the american people. another caller stated that if the shooter had not been politically motivated, he would not have been at the congresswoman's area to shoot her. mark david chapman, who shot john lennon, did not dislike him. he was infatuated with him. it did not stop him from being there. my question to you, sir, and again, i thank you for your common sense. if you were going to run for a political party, i would definitely vote for you. guest: and another one, john hinckley. the what did he have against ronald reagan? nothing. this is what happens when you are crazy. you do crazy things, if this man is crazy. we do not know because it has
not been determined yet, but we do not know if he was crazy or if he was evil. and that is a conversation, i think, that needs to be this -- to be explored. i think the media would do a much better service to the american people to explore what degree he was dabbling in the occult. because to the degree he that he was an to the degree that there is a connection, that, to me, is far, far more frightening than any silly discussion about politics or liberals or conservatives or democrats or republicans. that is far more serious than this, but nobody is covering that. it might just be that this man is simply a walk job -- whack job, but if that is the case, that we should have a conversation about that.
one of the terrible consequences of this is that from now on, every member of congress is going to need to have to have security, or they will believe they do. this country is losing its soul. you look across the state to the capital and it is just full of police and their kids because of 9/11. more and more, we are getting -- police and barricades' because of 9/11. more and more we are getting into the posture. you host: said you do believe in stability and this course -- host: you said you do believe in civility and discourse. what is served by that by calling someone a whack job? guest: yes. we cannot be so sensitive, so politically correct that we cannot say anything eveat all.
you hear so many words that we are told we cannot say any more, so many phrases that we are told we cannot under any more. it comes -- that we cannot under any more. it comes to the point where we need a super on our mouths. -- a zipper on our routes. if it turns out he is crazy, then he is crazy. host: a republican caller from baltimore. caller: i want to start off by thanking you for all othe you have done for the country and the conservative movement. what we have going on here is that government and governing means we have winners and losers and the more government you have out there, that is more ammunition you will have down the line. would you not agree with me?
>> more ammunition in what way? -- if guest: more ammunition in what way? caller: the more government you have the mowry the native americans you will have. guest: i had not thought about -- the more alienated americans you will have. guest: i have not thought about it that way. with more government you have more and more people who are participants in government, directly or indirectly, and fewer people who are not participants in government. here in the washington d.c. area, you never know that there has been a recession in this country. the homes are booming, the economy is growing nicely. everyone here lives of the government to one degree or another.
this is not the real world. and i do believe that this is a feeling of alienation about more and more people who feel that the government does not represent them anymore. they have their own agendas and they do not see themselves as representatives of the people. i firmly believe that. what does that have to do with the arizona killings? nothing. host: chad, an independent caller in michigan, hi there. caller: i would like to thank c- span for having this kind of discussion that we are having today. it is an indispensable value for this country. i will disagree with mr. bozell because there are some of the cliches that can be applied to conservatives and their arguments that he is presenting.
they can dish it, but you cannot take it. i believe this discussion is dealing with a political speech and how it applies to arizona. i would certainly agree that there is a tenuous connection that the gentleman has unhinged, however, you cannot escape the environment that one creates and the impact it has on others. you can see that when we have democratic presidents in the white house, you saw a ramping up of a republican rhetoric in a very militant way. as a person from michigan, the militia in the 1990's was very widespread. it is kind of like the tea party now. in fact, i have a manager that felt so comfortable that during
a break he brought me out to his car to show me the gun that he kept in his car and asked me if i was in -- interested in attending a militia meeting, which of course, i was not interested in. we saw a lot of this ramping up a of rhetoric in the 1990's with rich and others and the bombing of the federal building. i think we are seeing the same thing here. in his comments and many other conservatives, i think they sense this president is having similarly occurred. -- this precedent, having similarly occurred. it makes great news. it ultimately it has a negative
impact. host: let's get a response. guest: you just tied to the tea party to the militia movement. this is the kind of thing i am talking about. about the harshest in the tea party does is using "god bless america" off key. and now they have just been tied to the militia movement. this is the kind of thing that i think is reprehensible. where is the evidence that in any way directly or indirectly linked this killer to the conservative movement or even to politics at all? everyone is saying there is none, but we can see usain there is a connection. although there is not. -- we can see you saying there is a connection. although there is not. i want to blame parcheesi for this.
how can we be so high and mighty about this and not point fingers at ourselves? i would say to you, sir, where were you when president obama said, if they bring a knife, we will bring a gun. -- we will bring a gun? no one on the right said, mommy, he is tried to kill me. he has a gun. no, it is rhetoric. it is completely understood. no one in the media talks about bombarding someone's ground game. nobody complains about the media because you understand what they are saying. but let's be careful with these accusations. to accuse republicans of ruby ridge and everything else, this is beyond the pale. you should be ashamed of yourself for saying that.
if you want to be against republicans or conservatives, fine. but be careful with accusations. host: here is another article about tucson. guest: the press has been nonstop talking about politics played a role in this, and yet, 57% of the american people reject that argument. i think the public has a lot÷??
represents 70% of gdp. it presents a particular challenge when it comes to national security. indeed, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff declared in this room about six months ago that the greatest threat to our national security is not al qaeda or iran or the rise of china, it was, he said, the national debt. it is in that context that michael o'hanlon decided to return to his roots as a budget analyst, in particular the defense budget, to look at particular questions of how to
cut the defense budget as a way of helping contribute to an austerity program that would lead to significant reductions in our deficit and, therefore, eventually in our debt. the defense budget is the latest in the analysis. it is this analysis we are here to discuss today. the director of foreign-policy research at brookings. the is the author of 40 many books to mention. i will just highlight the most
recent per. publishedtic's case," this year. last year he wrote a book called "budgeting for the hour." i am sure you'll find it fascinating reading. with the policy paper he has written. today, michael will be followed after his presentation by comments and discussion from two very distinguished panelists. we are very grateful to alice rivlin for gracing us with her
presence today. alice is one of our most distinguished scholars at brookings. it is not often that we have an opportunity to invite her to our foreign policy podium. she was in the congressional budget office as director of the economic studies program. she is now a senior fellow in that program and a visiting professor at the public policy n thatute at georgetown deals with budgets and deficits that does not -- there is a commission that deals with budgets and deficits that does not include alice rivlin.
there was a commission that came out with the important recommendations on the deficit, which included recommendations on cutting the defense budget. alice is the author of many books. a modest them is a series that she coedited called "restoring fiscal sanity." that is something we will try to do today. bob is also a senior fellow in the form policy program. he is one of the preeminent experts and commentators on u.s. foreign policy. a historian by trading -- by
training and proud of it, he is the author of a book on u.s. foreign policy called "a dangerous nation." it is eight two-volume series on the history of american foreign policy. he is the author of another series of best-selling books. mike, why do you not give us a reprise of your argument of the defense budget? >> it is a treat for me to have alice and all part of the panel. thank you for being here is so close to christmas. thank you, c-span, for being here. some may confuse this for "how the grinch stole part of the defense budget."
we hope or i hope that the ultimate goal will be to shore up american and national security by contributed into deficit reduction. that is the basic spirit by which i understood this exercise, which was to investigate the proportion a cutting and the defense budget. defense doing its fair share to reduce the deficit, inspired in part by the commissions that alice was working on and by other scholars who have argued for some form of strategic restraint or defense budget restraint. but the basic idea here, and i want to explain the philosophy first, was not too strongly advocate a 10% reduction in the peacetime defense budget, which is the number i picked, but weher c, to say why don't
investigate whether the pentagon can do that kind of cut? what is the case for considering it? and then leave it to the broader policy committee and the reader to decide for him or herself as the kinds of reductions that might be necessary to achieve that seem worth the risk. so that was spirit in which i am said the paper. -- i understood the paper. i think there are calculated gambles associated with the basic concept, but the question is, as admiral mullen pointed out, there are a huge risks associated with running $1 trillion deficit for our national security. therefore, can we afford to keep running those? if we're going to take a serious crack at reducing the deficit, is it realistic to think that you can start demanding that one
big part of the budget is somehow protected. so the minute this someone says, defense is the top constitutional obligation of the federal government and it should be protected regardless and we should make our deficit reduction out of other accounts, if we start a conversation in those terms, another constituency will come up and say, let's protect social security or college loans. or let's protect science research or infrastructure. you get the idea. pretty soon you have lost the shared sacrifice that i think is essential. that is the basic motivation. we will not reduce the deficit effectively and strengthen our long-term economy and the foundation for our military power if we do not establish a shared sacrifice. so 10% reduction in the real defense budget becomes my number. i am not going to go through
detailed our arithmetic here to explain how i got to that number, because i think i would probably confuse you and confuse myself in the process of trying to keep a slide straight and talk to real or nominal dollars. the basic idea is we are not talking about the wars. the wars will be decided on their own terms. we are talking about the part of the defense budget that you could call the peacetime budget or the base budget, sort of the regular, normal budget we would expect to continue on even as drawdown hopefully and the next three years. of that base budget, is a 10% reduction possible? 10% in the real or inflation- adjusted dustamount. that seems consistent to what the pentagon should contribute to the budget. if we will look at the overall federal spending and tax
accounts and try to establish a way to get close to fiscal balance over the next half a decade or so, with proportionate cuts in each area. now let me start talking about defense itself and explain what i think needs to be grappled with, what kinds of reductions might be necessary if you were to aspire to this 10% reduction in the inflation-adjusted defense budget. i want to say -- i want to stay conceptual. part of michael and his paper was to try to -- part of my goal was to try to be a bridge between the defense community and the budget papers that i have sometimes been a part of writing myself, but the stronger strategic community or the policy debate so that everyone can begin to link
by 10% to what it would mean for our place in the world. and whether the risks are worth it. 10% is a big cut. it's not trivial. it is not the sort of thing that will require russ to instantly stop our engagement anywhere, whether it is northeast asia, europe, or another key part of the world. so the goal here is to preserve most of our key strategic underpinnings and see if there are more economic ways to pursue. and with somewhat greater risk. there are two main ideas that i raise in the paper as sort of strategically meaningful concepts for ways to understand the implications of this sort of cut. there are a few specifics as well, in the spirit of what secretary gates has been trying
to do with his business reforms within the department of defense. i have a few more ideas along most lines as well, but i want to emphasize the two big concepts that would account for most of the savings that i am trying to illustrate and discuss. and what of them is the size of our army and marine corps, and the other is the basic strategy by which we modernize weaponry. the me say a couple of words about what i think would be a somewhat more economical approach to each of those areas of american defense policy, and then passed back the baton to martin and alice and bob and you for further discussion. first, on the issue of ground forces, let me remind you first that we have increased the size of the ground forces by 15% over the course of this past decade. that is after having reduced the combined army and marine corps by about 35% once the cold war
ended. we reduced in the 1990's and we built back up almost half as much again in the last 10 years. we are much smaller today than we were during the 1980's, but the combined strength of the active duty army and the active duty marine corps is nearly 100,000 personnel greater than it had been in the 1990's. i supported this increase for the engagements we have been involved with. there was no way to do the operation in iraq over a sustained basis, no way to do the operation in afghanistan without increasing these numbers. we already ask a great deal, probably too much, of our men and women in uniform during the period when we were still building up and we probably resisted too long, and i am not support of a secretary resistance
to increasing the army and marine corps, but we gradually built up further in the eighth period. now we are about 15% larger. i am suggesting that we may have to reverse that 15% increase once the war in afghanistan begins to wind down. so we go back to clinton-era levels on the army and marine corps. that is one big strategic concept. it is a simple idea. and we have been there before. you can think to yourself the implications of this. if we were going to have another decade like the one we are now finishing we would probably not want to go to a smaller army or marine corps. if the mission in afghanistan was going to take a lot longer we would,000 troops have to delay. i'm not suggesting we should do this next year. these kinds of cuts should
begin in the next presidential term, as the economy hopefully has begun to improve in the war in afghanistan has substantially wound down i hope by then. it would be a mistake to do these things prematurely. that is one big idea. we can talk about specific scenarios if you like in a discussion, which ones would be too demanding for that smaller army and marine corps, but perhaps, almost undoable today. let me remind you very quickly in passing, then i will move on to modernization and rafah, but in terms of scenarios we could still handle our role in the early months of another korea contingency if that happened. because longer-term operations in any future korea contingency, and here i am speaking hypothetically and i am not predicting another korean war, but you have to think about these scenarios, the possibility of another korean conflict would
presumably lead to the occupation of north korea. but the good news is that we have an ally, south korea, that would handle all lion's share. our role would be in the opening 6-12 months. that may prove a debatable assumption. we may want to discuss that. i think we will still have ample forces to create that scenario, even with a smaller army and marine corps. that is just one example. alice and bob may raise other scenarios as well. let me move to modernization. how do we try to modernize weaponry with a more economical approach towards the basic idea of buying new weapons and researching new weapons? today, we are spending in the normal peacetime budget, about $100 billion on procurement, and another $80 billion on research. then we spend several tens of
billions more and what used to be called a supplemental budget, intoh has been folded the regular budget prepa. i think there is a possibility of being able to reduce that by reduced war expenditures and then by another 10% or so. it would be hard to do more than 10%. if you take the following three ideas as guideposts, i think you might be able to accomplish this. i will mention them briefly. one is a systems where there is redundancy in the way we are modernizing, because we are building several different things, accomplishing the same goal. a good example would be tactical aircraft modernization, where we are building a super hornet for the navy, planning to spill -- to build three different kinds of airplanes for the navy and marine corps, completing the purchase of the f-22 and
modernizing munitions that are capable of far more precise attacks that have never been possible. the full range of modernization is excessive. it does not mean that any one of them is wasteful. i am not trying to c ritique, but we take a gamble but what is the healthiest way to build a strong defense. a second guidepost would be programs that were way over costs or would underperform. this is common sense. i am not saying anything radical here. the army has adopted some of its philosophy in recent years with some help from the office of the secretary of defense and canceled its future combat system.
the next generation vehicle system that was probably not doing very well in performance terms or financial terms, and it was the sort of thing we need to be able to scrutinize and potentially canceled. that is a very important area as well. and a third and more difficult area is military missions that, while perhaps still within the realm of the feasible, seem less likely than they have been before. here a classic example might be marine corps anmphibious assault. i do this in full knowledge that there might be marines of this room. -- in this room. i do not want to suggest that forced entry operations are a thing of the past, but we have capabilities up for carrying this out already, and two of the modernization efforts are both to my mind dubious ways
to further our capabilities. if it is a mission that may seem to be beyond the heyday of its likely application, this may be also an area of modernization that we are willing to run more risks. not because the existing programs are wasteful, but because we have to introduce a spirit of trading off short- term, calculated gambles about how we can make do with less to shore up our longer-term economic foundation and national power for future decades. martin? >> thank you. alice, put this in a budget context for us. how important is it to actually reduce defense expenditure? >> i think my role is to say as well as i can, why are we having this conversation at all? and i think it is very, very important that we have it. michael has written a very
thoughtful and interesting paper, which i think will help as people think about what might you do in defense, but why should you do anything at all is the firsquhi admiral mullen is right. he is not the only person saying this. the greatest national security threat we face is an economic catastrophe, and i do not say catastrophe lightly. i believe that we are now facing the possibility, the real possibility of an economic catastrophe, all real meltdown in the u.s. economy. now, with the discussion of the defense budget and how much is enough and national-security has always started with a throwaway paragraph that said, the most important thing for national security is to have a strong
look, resilient, a growing economy. but then we moved on, because we thought we had that, that we could take for granted. we did not need to worry about it. so the next question was, how much should we spend for defense? but i would submit that that is no longer true. now, we worried that as michael points out, the somewhat in the 1980's about the future of the american economy. but we thought we fixed it. we got the budget deficit into a surplus. i am very proud of that, because i served as budget director. and we got the economy growing again. but what we did not fix was our national saving rate. we did not fix the fact that we as an economy were living way beyond our means. and now we are facing a very new and different situation. i think it is important to understand that.
that thing that is bothersome and worrisome is not the current level of the deficit, although that is high, but it is related to the recession and the financial meltdown, which we never should have said. that was dumb policy, but we are here. we have to get out of it. but what is really scary is what happens to the projections of the federal deficit and rising debt as you look beyond the recession, as the economy recovers. we are facing a budget deficit that does not go down. it keeps going up, and a debt that rises off the charts. and that is driven by the demographics, the aging population, and more importantly, by our taste for expensive medical care, which we
have. we have to recognize that we have it and we needed. and the combination in the federal budget drives spending up faster than revenue can possibly go. and we are borrowing back, i believe half of it from the rest of the world. people say, the japanese, they have a hired jett -- debt to gdp ratio. but they owe f thworld. if you think about competition going forward in in the world with the chinese, i would submit that the first thing that we need is a strong, growing, resilient american economy. the second thing we need is a not to be dependent our man o r n them for selling our debt.
and way down the list is a strong military. so that is just trying to explain what averdmiral mullens put more succinctly. we have to worry that the rising debt is unsustainable. we cannot borrow that much. we will get to a point, and it could come quite quickly, the europeans have been surprised by how quickly it comes, when we simply can't market our debt, except at astronomical interest rates. we have a spike in interest rates, a crash and the dollar, and we are into a deep and prolonged recession that will affect us for a generation. now, what does the defense budget have to do with this it? that is the next serious
question. these projections are not caused by rising defense spending. by assumption, everybody is making these projections, the war is winding down, and the defense budget goes up at some rate, maybe at the rate of gdp growth or maybe inflation, but it is not what is driving the future spending. so why are we talking about the fans? well, i think we are talking about it because we have to do everything we possibly can, and we cannot do it all on the health entitlement side, because we are aging and we do like to have medical care even if we do it more efficiently. so we have to look at spending the rest of our budget more effectively on the domestic side and the defense side, and raising more revenue. now, that sounds like shared sacrifice, but i do not think
shared sacrifice is the way to think about it i think it is, we are in a bad situation with respect to our public debt. how we use our resources more effectively, and let's come back to the defense budget. now, you serve on these commissions and you hear an awful lot about waste in certainly is there's quite a bit, and that's a question of nomenclature. mike is much more polite when he talks about the ospry. he does not say it is wasteful. he just said we do not need it anymore and it does not work. but you can have lots of conversations about that. in the end, you have to come back to where mike came -- do we need such a large force?
that relates to the question of stairs -- shared sacrifice, because much of the public does not believe that we need to go in and take over other people's countries because we do not do it very well and it is awfully hard to get out. and so if you are going to look at how we use our resources better on the domestic side, you are going to have to convince a lot of people that you are also looking at, do we need to spend so much on the defense side? >> thank you, alice. bob, let's put it in historical context. larry summers, i think, said recently, how long can the greatest power in the world remain the greatest power in the world while being the greatest borrower in the worldd? ? and there is an inherent tension there, it seems to me, between
the need to solve the problem that mike and alice portrayed, and on the other hand the need to stay strong to protect our interests abroad. how you reconcile those? >> first of all, let me say that i appreciate the spirit by which we approach the problem. and i also appreciate alice rivlin. it is easy to say, let's cut the defense budget. i do not think one of you are saying that is an easy decision. i worry sometimes that we are like, it is like we have a gas- guzzling car with a huge gas- guzzling engine and we are looking for ways to reduce the guzzling, and one of the things we are going to remove is the front bumper and the air bags. you might say that would be a shared sacrifice along with reducing the power of the engine, but you might ask if
that was the right way to go about it. there is a little bit of a danger of talking about our budget deficit as a national security problem if it means that the way that we have to deal with it is to reduce our national security. and that is the problem that i guess i am here to try to analyze. by the way, i take very seriously the budget deficit, but as alice says, it is not primarily a defense budget problem. it is many other things. the question is, what is the risk we are going to take? i think you do need to put in some historical context and ask, what is the character of our nation in terms of our behavior in the world? what is the character of the international situation and where are we going? and then we need to make a kind of cost evaluation as to whether the savings that you might get it in national security budgets might actually lead to a more expensive
situation because of the contingencies you are not able to deal with. let me try to go through those. you know, i do know the american people, the majority say they do not want to get in the business of invading other countries and using our force abroad in various contingencies, but i have to say that we as a people have a short-term memory disorder, because even though the american people do not -- say they do not want to do that, it is astonishing how frequently they do it. i think when we talk about, of course nobody wants to be sending troops of around the world willy-nilly, but if you look a little bit at recent history, it is quite remarkable how often we do in fact do that. to make a quick look through recent history, we intervened in grenada, panama, iraq, somalia,
haiti, bosnia, kosovo, afghanistan and iraq. so we have now gone a record number of years without an additional intervention. it probably has something to do with the number of troops we have. and i recall, after each one of those interventions, there was a great cry, we will not do that again. this is abnormal. only people with a wonderful memory can think that intervening every two years over 20 years is now all of a sudden an abnormal activity and we will go back to not doing that anymore. that may be true, but i would say if you were looking from a distance at the united states, you would look at that record and say, i am not so sure they will never intervene again. so i would be careful about
assuming that is what the american people want. and i would especially say that given that there are some obvious, possible contingencies looming ahead of us, which are by no means far-fetched and which mike mentioned one. any of which that we might wind up doing. north korea is one. iran is another, even if the president, as i assume he does not get into a military confrontation, iran may suck us into a military confrontation. the consequence of sanctions may be that iran may lash out and do something, or israel may do something that drives us into it, whether we want to be in it or not. this is what our military planners have spent years of worrying about of two of those things happening at the same time. is not a question of whether we could do one or the other.
the question has always been, would you do one if you knew the other might have been and he would be completely incapable of dealing with it? that is why we had a two, or tried to have that two major contingency force. might we have to do something in somalia or yemen, or place i have not thought of yet? that would also be true. i think we need to be cautious before saying, we will take a vacation from that stuff. neither our history or the international conditions suggest that is a good bet right now. that addresses the question of the size of ground forces. because we fought two wars badly because we "a" did not have, and did not want to put enough forces into iraq or afghanistan that might have actually brought those
conflicts to a quicker resolution and then less- expensive in the long run. this is another one of those cases where you say, you might want a larger force but that will be cheaper than a war that drags on inconclusively for five years. you might want to pursue the powell doctrine and send in enough forces to cauterize the situation. that might be cheaper. on the prospects of a coalition helping us, so we do not need as large a force. if anything our traditional coalition partners are decreasing their own military capacity. europe is becoming a shadow of what it once was and what it once was was a shadow. going tooion that we are have significant support. maybe, eventually, we can hope that india will pick up some of
the slack in east asia. japan has a large force. if they are willing to use it, is often a question. ok. the second, and fortuon force aa characteristic is we are back to great power competition. and the most significant competition is china. it is a cliche to say that china is the rising power, but it is a rising military power. it is not going away of new, peaceful development. it is challenging not only our own position in east asia but the independent capacities of allies of ours. i would say that avoiding a conflict with china -- and if
you look through history, the odds of a conflict are higher than the odds of not having a conflict in this situation. the number of times that rising powers have entered into the existing international system without a war are few and far between. and the way to avoid this war is going to require, and we are not going to be able to get away from this, some kind of arms race with china. china is going to keep building and improving its capabilities, and they will accelerate that, in my view. we will be very lucky if they do not. and we are going to have to keep up. if you look at the administration's own approach to east asia it is all about reassuring allies that we are there. you cannot reassure allies you are there if your own capacity is dwindling. i know mike is not calling for a reduction in our forces in east asia, but i think the one thing that is missing from the paper is the realization that those expenditures will have to increase because we are in an
arms race out there. that is something that i think will make it difficult for us. at the broadest level, the question we have to ask ourselves is, what does the liberal world order that we support cost? how much is it worth to us? i would argue that the great, almost miraculously prosperity of the 40 years after the end of world war ii and on was a very much a product of the liberal world order that american power was preeminent in supporting. if we are talking about a reduction of america's capacity to support that liberal world order, and by the way, that may be inevitable in a matter what we do, it would be hastened by are weakening, by our ceding power to countries like china but maybe russia. there will be a cost, and
possibly a direct financial cost to our inability to make sure that the lines of communication are always open. that is one of the great public goods that we provide and benefit from. so that it seems to me also has to be brought into the calculation. you know, it is extremely unfortunate that we happen to have an economic crisis at a time when the international scene is getting more crisis prone. that is a bad break. it is the kind of bad break we had in the 1930's when we had, at the same time, and even related by the way, a great depression and an increasingly perilous international situation. things are not as dire now as they were in the 1930's but, yes, you can have a double bed by over the decade. that is where we are.
-- a double bad biorhythm over a decade and that is wehre we are. the biggest mistake that we could make is to weaken ourselves in the process. saving $60 billion per year so that the defense budget can make its fair share of the sacrifice is too risky and not necessary. we do have to solve our budget crisis, but we would be taking grave risks if we try to solve the by cutting the defense budget. >> ok. good. at least we have a debate. thank you. like to respond to bob and abbas. lice. if they are -- if there are savings to be made, they need to be done in terms of achieving
more efficiencies. another context in which we are already spending way beyond defense expenditures of other countries combined. we account for 45% of the world military expenditure. is bob right that this is too risky? and where we define the efficiencies? >> i am not saying only efficiencies. i said the opposite of that. i think efficiencies are very important. if you are going to discuss the defense budget as much as mike is proposing you do need to think about the force structure, and we should. >> let me start with bob and see what i can say in response. frankly, i agree with everything except his last three sentences. and so i think that's part of why, as i say in the paper, i
would only support the cuts here, i would only consider supporting the cuts i lay out if it is part of a serious national effort of deficit reduction across the board, because my goal really is, even though we see the risk differently, my goal is to shore up long-term national power. if there is no chance of accomplishing that, then i would agree with bob that the $50 billion you might be able to cut from the defense budget is not worth the risk. again, i want to emphatically state that while i do think there is waste, you have to cut muscle not fat in order to get this level of reduction, and you have to take real risks. i would emphatically make that argument. i would support serious consideration of this kind of a plan in the context of other major changes to our federal budget, such as income tax reform that brings in greater net revenue, whether it is higher rates or preferably smaller and fewer loopholes, such as reform to social
security that for most workers increases the age and delores the adjustment rate of cost of living-- and lowers the adjustment rate of the cost of living. i was struck a few weeks ago giving a talk at the university of las vegas, and i asked the students in the room how many of them expected to get social security when they retired, and three of them raised their hand. the notion that we should consider social security as a sacred cow, that does not hold water. the younger generation is already recognized the dilemma. they recognize the need for reform. but that kind of spirit of shared sacrifice will only be established if we ask a -- every major part of the budget to contribute. at the end of the day, i fundamentally disagree with bob. i do not think you can make major progress on deficit
reduction unless everybody has to do something. while i always like to ellis for guidance on fiscal matters, i do think that we need to up the spirit of sacrifice. and the national security area, they are risky. instant loans, they might be less generous. and so what it down the road -- they might loans, be less generous. let me just talk briefly about iran, because i take this country and this problem very seriously, just like bob and martin does, and i am sure most of you do as well. what i would say is the following. i tried to test various scenarios against the 15% smaller ground force. and most of, all the scenarios i can think of, that 15% reduction
is not crucial for affecting our basic capability. if we do airstrikes against iran's nuclear facility, which i do not support but i recognize are not out of that, question certainly, the size of our ground force will not be relevant. if we do e a naval blockade, to prevent them from shipping out oil or importing gasoline, then the size of our navy is much more important. i am generally in support of protecting those of the naval force structure, not every single element, but 90%. i am not looking to make major cuts, partly because i take this scenario seriously. if we are looking to deal with the possibility, however unlikely, of an iranian escalation up to and including an attack on an american city by iranian-trained terrorists that requires us in response to at least raise the specter of an
invasion to overthrow the iranian regime, and i am talking pretty unlikely scenarios but ones that i would agree with hawks need to be kept in mind, we have the capability to overthrow the iranian regime. we do not have the capability to occupy their country, but we do not have that even with today's army and marine corps. we would have to have an army that would probably be twice their current size to do an occupation of iran with a 75 million population correctly over period of years. when i test my smaller force structure against these scenarios, i would argue that either we are still going to have enough or there is no different from what we have today. and i would accept implicitly one of the things i believe bob is arguing. but i would except that you do have to do these kinds of tests. you do have to think hard. and i'm happy to do this in regard to china and i want if people want to have that conversation in the next 45
minutes. i think you need to ask, do we have a strong deterrent for these scenarios that matter? recognizing that you have to stretch your imagination because there may be a scenario you have not thought of that winds up being important. that is one more challenge. >> the bowles-simpson recommendations -- alice was involved -- suggested there was $100 billion in possible defense cuts. the big ticket items that they identified, the biggest of all was to reduce procurement by 15%. that would produce a $20 billion annual savings. i do not know whether you have looked at that and what that would mean as opposed to the
kinds of more surgical strikes at the chairman you are talking about reduce overseas bases by 1/3, $8.50 billion. bob, you might also address the question of whether we really need all of those force deployments in europe. i could see the argument for korea and japan given exactly what he said, but can we save significant money by drawing driving europe wihtouthout up risk to hide? then there was $9.2 billion in freezing combat military pay at 2011 levels for three years, non-combat military paper. y. let's look at those three specific issues -- reducing
overseas bases, cutting procurements in a more draconian way, and freezing noncombat military pay. alice, would you like to elaborate? >> those were illustrations. both the bowles-simpson group and the other group that i cochaired with the senator demanded she recommended freezes in defense spending is at a hard dollar level. then put together a list of things that illustrated how he might get there. in both cases, the illustrations -- in domenici, there were more heavy on force structure. they included a lot of the same things. in some of the non-military things like retirement and non-
combat pay, and particularly the health system and tricare, but the acquisition, i think, i do not know where 15% came from, but in the bowles-simpson commission there was a lot of focus on waste in the procurement process. political interference and weapons systems that the military has said time and time again they do not want and congress puts back because they're made in everybody's congressional district. and so that is how the acquisition number came in there. >> we will come back to the politics of this in the third round, because that becomes important. >> i'll mention a couple.
one is there is one method -- methodological difference occur. if you are talking about established bases in a major allied countries, that is incorrect. the only place where you can save that kind of money to overseas base cuts is in the war zones because we do not have allies who are paying the lion's share of our local costs. in germany and japan and britain we do. . or we are so established that the facilities are not that much more expensive than what we have at home. the way you get the savings is if you cut those forces out of the force structure. if the army troops that are brought home from germany are brought home and demobilize, then you can save that kind of money. the presence we have in germany, britain, japan, korea, you do
not have those kinds of costs associated above and beyond what it would cost to have the same units in the force structure here in the united states. 10% versus a 50% -- versus 15% reduction, i believe that is within the realm of debate. it is worth remembering that 10% will be pretty hard. i do not disagree at all with alice. once in awhile, congress has thought of good weapons systems that the military may have made a mistake about. let's remember, the military ultimately is the secretary of defense, and that person is infallible,. it there have been other -- there have been other secretaries of defense that did not want to buy things. lo and behold the medium weight truck that he wanted bill
performed very well in operation desert storm and provided the capability we needed. most discussions of all right waste in the defense budget are overstated. i do not want to say 15% reduction in per term it is impossible, but i think 10% is already very hard. my paper does consider asking military personnel to pay a little more what you might call normal share of health-insurance costs, because the tricare program is a generous and for good reason. we want to take care of our men and women in uniform and their families. this proposal makes an exception for combat pay and makes no reductions in health care costs for those who are hurt, but nonetheless, i think if we are going to ask military personnel to pay a higher share of their health-insurance costs, i would prefer to continue to give them at least a rate of inflation increase in their pay or
better. >> bob, do you want to talk about base closings abroad? >> mike made the key point. having troops overseas or having them at home is not a big savings one way or the other. you know, i was not privy to how all these things came about, but i thought the commission said two things. one was that the united states has to rethink its role. i think the discussion of cutting bases by 1divided bythere was more about that than about savings -- cutting basese was more about that than about savings. we are getting a little tangled in this debate. i think that it might be, not here, but maybe that is the debate we should be having. i start with a set of assumptions about the wall we have in the world. there is another way of looking
at the united states -- i start with a set of assumptions about the role we have in the world. you're talking about a substantial retraction of our role. if we all agree on our role, there is not enough savings in the defense budget to spend a lot of time on it. it is not that we cannot find it weapons program that is stupid. many are wasteful. increase, ability is and now they are creating ships that can go 1500 nautical miles, and will cause all kinds of problems for us to operate in that space. it will require innovation and duplications, and you know better than i do what it may
require, but it may require not that we shrink our naval capacities but that we increase our naval capacity. we will find areas where we need to increase capability. >> do you want to respond? >> it's a fair point. i will say one small thing in reply, but i will not commit rebutts this concern. we are spending $9 billion each year on missile defense, which is 50% more than ronald reagan spent. even with the reductions that the obama administration has carried out, some of the concerns that have been raised have already been internalized and the way we are thinking about defense resource allocation. do you think it will be adequate? no. i think offensive missiles have an innate advantage over defense missiles. therefore, once the reductions are made that i am laying out, i
think we are going to need to go on a path of being able to increase defense funding, not to immediately on to the reductions but to allow for sustained, long-term, modest growth. that would be one more part of my plan that i think is important. >> i think the scariest thing that bob has said is that we will inevitably get into a long run arms race with china. i think we'd better think how not to have they long run arms race with china, because we are not talking about the soviet union. we are talking about a country that is very likely going to be much stronger in the future economically and we are, and it has a lot more people, and if we get into a full scale arms race with the chinese, it does not end the way the soviet one did it come up with us bankrupting them because they could not afford it. i'm afraid it and thends that we
lose. bankrupting us. >> let's talk about the politics before we go to the audience for questions. we have probably witnessed today's a surprising act of bipartisanship in terms of senate ratifying by more than 2/3 vote the new start treaty. indeed, when one looks at national-security issues, there seems to be a surprising degree of bipartisanship when you compare it with the extreme partisanship involved on domestic issues. so would there be political support for the kinds of reductions that mike is talking about. ? >> it's a good question. certainly one hears a lot out
there about the need to put the defense budget out there, and that has been the plight of some of the new republican voices. on the other hand, there is probably a bipartisan consensus and not to do that. and probably an agreement between the administration and the majorities in congress and not to do that. and so will be interesting to see how that plays. it is worth noting that that incredible, wild man and profligate disefense spender bob gates, when asked about the cuts proposed of 10% said, it would be catastrophic. that is the word used. as long as you have a secretary of defense taking that position and you still have the group that passed -- you could say that the coalition that passed start is what i would call a kind of center-right caucus
coalition, because you had to put forward missile defense, and modernization, which is another question we did not factor in. i think you are not going to have a coalition in congress that will substantially cut the defense budget. >> alice? >> i'm not so sure. i think we will not know for a while how much the conversation has changed as a result of the fixation now, right fixation i think, on the dangers of looming debt. s-at i heard in the bowle simpson coalition was the bipartisanship that defense has to be part of cutting the budget. when you have a strong conservative like tom coburn and mike crapo and others joining
with dick durbin to sign on to a proposal that you just read some have aelementals of, you new kind of conversation. >> democrats have to appear tough on defense in political season. is it conceivable that you have republicans who go along with your kind of proposal? >> a lot would say is, because i think alice and bob framed it well, the specifics matter. you need to ask, if defense is part of the plan is to do something like i have tried to outline, are those risks acceptable? are the ones we should be willing to run or not? another example would be, can we keep the national security industrial base, the defense sector, healthy with a 10% at
smaller budget? people have to wrestle with those issues and see the implications of these kinds of alternative plans. if they feel comfortable with them, then i think it is possible. maybe this is a naive thought, but i think the substance matters. people have to digest a bit of the detail, not at the nitty gritty defense planning level but at a strategic level of what the implications are. that is why am glad we're having the opportunity to discuss this today. >> the triumph of rationalism. let's go to your questions, please. please wait for the microphone. identify yourself, and make sure there is a question mark at the end of your sentence. yes? >> thank you. hi. i appreciated mr. kagan's reference to the character of the american people as regards this issue, but i think it was not a corporate to say that that
was contradicted by all of the many interventions, none of which i have forgotten, but none of those were preceded by any kind of consensus in their favor. yes, the american people always support the troops in harm's way and they want to see them succeed, but also, in many cases, we were misled. we were misled by the gulf of tonkin, buy weapons of mass destruction. i think there is more support for a less interventionist, less occupation-invasion-oriented foreign policy than we are living on here. in general, i think a lot of the top of the suppose a third rail about social security, entitlements, and defense spending is more politicians expressing their addiction to conducting, being conductors of the gravy train than any real on willingness of the american people to actually face these budgetary and national-security
reality's peies. is our foreign policy not is of one of the greater threat to our national security? >> thank you. [laughter] question. sure of the >> i think it's a good question. it is, in part, the history of those often-failed interventions, or ones that began with an assumption that did not turn out to be right that i think is giving people pause about whether we need to keep on doing it. >> well, i mean, we could enter into theories of psychoanalysis of the american people, if you want to, and how they are constantly being misled into wars. that does not change my theory about how democracy works in
this country or any other country. you would still left to say that, if that is the case, the american people are endlessly capable of being misled by whatever evil forces are constantly misleading them, because there is no indication that they have after each successive misleading -- which you should include world war ii, which was also a conspiracy by fdr to get us into a war, and all the other wars in american history which were all conspiracies, that never the less we keep being fooled. the reality is, this is what america does. i could imagine that america gets tired and does not want to do it. but it is precisely, to fight against this tendency to believe that this is not really to we are, and therefore, we should not prepare for the contingencies that we have been engaged in in the past. i am afraid, for better or worse, this really is who we
are, and we need to recognize that, just as we need to recognize that americans want all the things they want and do not want to pay for them. these are all elements of what it is to be an american. i do not think we should kid ourselves that right now, over here in the corner. >> picking up on what alice rivlin said about the strength of rising china, i have a question for bob kagan. the you think that given the fact both america and china out what to pervert -- want to preserve the oceans for trade and so forth and the fact that we both have islamic terrorism problems -- china has a moslem
uprisings ever so often -- is there a possibility that we could be cooperating together on these world-wide problems? >> yes. there is a possibility. i hope that can turn help to be the case. what is interesting is if you take a shot -- what is interesting is china's perception of these things. i do not know how much commonality we have, but setting that aside, on the issue of the commons and how they are going to be protected and who will protect them, the chinese no longer want the united states to be operating in waterways they consider to be close to their territory. this happened over the past year. we have to decide, unfortunately, whether we want
to continue to insist on the right of passage to these international waters as secretary clinton said, or if we want to say to the chinese that they can take this over. that would have implications for japan, southeast asia, etc. that is why contrary to many expectations all of these countries have been coming to the united states as china asserts these rights. china may, i think, being confronted successfully by the united states and its allies, decide to back off and move towards the cooperation you are talking about. from a historical perspective, if you look at the history, the odds are against that. it is not because i am looking for to this competition, it is just because of the odds are they will continue to demand
that right and increase their capabilities so the next time they demand it, hillary clinton can go to hanoi and say, "no." i would love to avoid it, but we have to take the up possibility seriously that we may not be able to avoid it because the chinese themselves do not want to avoid it. >> i like the last two questions as well as alice's answer. i was in japan last week. the japanese are talking about their concerns about china's rise. the japanese, as you know, have reallocated their defense resources more towards their southern islands. i talked to a lot of people in
japan and ask them how they felt about their long-term relationship with china. there was not a lot of optimism. there was also not a lot of mention of war. i am not interested in debating a 30% cut. i think 10% is in the realm of law will allow us to keep a robust presence in the pacific. perhaps we can reallocate fewer forces to the atlantic. we probably have a larger presence in the mediterranean and the atlantic then we showed. we already been doing that. maybe we should do more. all would agree enough with bob to say that 10% is the vast amount -- is the maximum under the structure. >> i would like to quote the
indian national security adviser. "it should not be beyond the bounds of statecraft for us to manage the rise of these potential great powers of." >> i am en and turn. -- i am and intern. i am from germany. if you look at it, it is the same for the cost to run an army base in germany as it does in the united states.
i do not understand why it is much more different? >> you raise an important concern. we have some americans who want to bring the forces back home, partly because they want the economic stimulus associated with the base code to the american crop economy -- go to the american economy rather than the german economy. there is a broader economic argument that they could stimulate our own economy. there is also the argument to try to consolidate more bases in one, two, or three places. that will allow army families to stay put for a longer time. the typical army life that we are familiar with from history is not as conducive to a spouse
holding a job and keeping it for a long time. there are other reasons why secretary runs fell is looking to consolidate more forces -- secretary rumsfeld was looking to consolidate more forces. japan helps us a great deal. what modest differences there are are partially mitigated by host-nation support. this is not a big deal for an established facility in a major industrial country. >> i wanted to get you to react to something that is a little more short-term. congress has just passed the funding to 2010 levels until march 4.
this affects the pentagon's budget. does it affect national security? specifically to ms. rivlin, republicans are talking about knocking $100 billion out of non security spending this year. does that make sense from an economic point of view? does it threaten the recovery? what is your take on this energy? thank you. >> it is a terrible idea if it only goes to march 4. we should have had all of the budget, not just the defense association long before now. government by continuing resolution is that for everything. i have not examined the $100 billion that you referred to and what they are talking about. i cannot really give you an answer to that.
it depends on what baseline you are talking about. >> the state with the question of the incoming progress -- incoming congress. the incoming crowd seems to have gotten elected on the basis of cutting the budget. does that apply -- i do not know which of you has the desire -- to apply it to the defense budget or does the defense budget sacrifice? >> some do and some don't. during the campaign, what we heard most of the tea party candidates, some of whom were elected, is that we have to get this deficit down. we have to protect medicare, social security, the defense budget, and we cannot raise taxes. i do not know what they are talking about. you cannot get there from here. [laughter]
but mckeon has been very clear that they are not going to get savings out of the defense budget. he is not talking that way at all. i honestly doubt -- probably because some of the incoming budget cutter's positions are incoherent. i really do not expect in this coming year -- and the argument that mckean is very powerful at the moment. we have two wars going on, he will say. there is the simplicity that they will not listen to any of the specifics we have been driving down on. when you have a defense secretary from the opposite party who does not want to cut any more -- >> the question is not where the
new members stand. they have to figure that out. it is the shift in the senior republican leadership that would change the conversation in the next year or two. >> please stand up. >> i am a washington lawyer. we have heard two risk describe -- military risk, which are very dramatic. alice rivlin told us about the economic risk. i wish alice would expand on what that risk is. how do you balance these risks? >> the economic risk, i think, is very serious.
we are no longer talking about downturns, recessions, market disruption. we are talking about potential economic trajectory. come in the could form of a sovereign debt crisis to use the term be used in europe. that has always been thought to be unthinkable. i think we have gotten to the point that unless we change course it could mean a serious a meltdown in the economy. when might that happen? nobody knows. it is happening in europe faster. it is happening to the u.k. faster than they thought. they decided to do something really serious. i am afraid they are going to overreact.
we are bigger. we are able to borrow in our own currency. we have to face the fact that we are not immune. >> china owns a lot of our debt. are we vulnerable in that sense? >> china bought our debt for good reasons. they saw it as a good risk. we are buying their stuff. the question is, how long can this go on? they have to realize that this is unsustainable. they do not have to adopt our debt to make really big problems for us.
that creates very serious problems. maybe not total market meltdown. they do not want us to go down. it is not in their interest to have a catastrophe in the u.s. economy? -- it is not in their kind -- it is not in their interest to have a catastrophe in the u.s. economy. >> alice talks about our serious economic risk. i am take this very seriously. i think it is worth remembering -- and this is not to disagree with her in any way -- our problems are fixable. i try to mention some of the strength in the paper. we still need -- we still do more research and development than anyone else in the world. we had the best universities in the world by any assessment system than any other part of the world. we have great innovations in
areas like aerospace and computers. if we make a course adjustment that is significant but not radical, we can preserve a lot of the strengths and stay powerful. it is the underlying bullishness. >> i totally agree with that. >> i do not in any way question the nature of the risk that alice is talking about. i take them very seriously. my question is, do we want to compel that risk by reducing the military budget by $50 million? i would urge that we think about, even if you just want to talk about dollars, whether the underprepared this in military terms could wind up being more expensive for us.
the problem with the defense budget and thinking about his military risk is we are the captive and potential victim of forces that are beyond our control. we can decide what we want to do about social security act and it is a finite situation. but people can do things out there in the world that we have no control over. we have to prepare for that risk because it could be more expensive. those of you to remember 1948 to 1950, we had an $18 billion defense budget. everybody was madly looking around for a way to cut this thing. some were saying we needed to have a $50 billion budget. north korea invaded south korea, we are at war, the next thing you know we have a $50 billion
defense budget. these can wind up driving up costs and we would be better off paying for them. >> we would be better off with a stronger economy. >> i strongly agree with you. i would say to cut social security entitlements before we cut the defense budget. that is what i would say, but what do i know? >> has -- the economic downturn of fax political power. do we have to turn to a stronger military power in order to maintain our global influence? how does the adjustment of the u.s. military affect the rest of the world? >> i like the way you talk about this, but i am happy to do it if you do not want to. [laughter] 1 dynamic i like and what i have
seen in the international system, is it is clear we are still the most powerful country on earth. we see it now in east in asia where countries are coming to us and asking for help. sometimes we get a snack in the united states for being the country that was to assert ourselves. the bush administration was tarred with this. there are some countries who want us to stay engaged. in our power ensues across the world, it makes them a little bit more nervous that we will go away. they get more enthusiastic about lobbying for our association. we see that also in the broader middle east. there is a dynamic that is very interesting where we have to be sought after by other countries a little bit more. frankly, in some ways it is beneficial to our interest to be the superpower that leads the